A blood test to diagnose bipolarity? It’s underway

A new innovation could revolutionize medicine: There would be a blood test that would make it possible to diagnose bipolarity. Progress never stops. On social networks, the discovery is attributed to Professor Raoul Belzeaux, who is currently a psychiatrist at Montpellier University Hospital.

For many Internet users, this is impossible. And to tell the truth, that’s kind of what we say to ourselves when we hear the news. “Discovering a mental disorder by blood? Really? asks one of them. “That’s just bullshit. “Some even dare to make a comparison: “It is clear that all the Raoul teachers are also crossed out. “A reference to our dear Didier Raoult who wanted to cure Covid-19 with hydroxychloroquine. 20 minutes discusses this discovery.

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According to the high health authority, an average of ten long years pass between the appearance of the first symptoms and the medical diagnosis of bipolar disorder. So inevitably a blood test would be much simpler and faster. A blessing for people suffering from this pathology, ranked among the 10 most debilitating diseases by the World Health Organization. Well, that will soon be the case, because this test is very real.

Dr. Raoul Belzeaux, former psychiatrist at the University Hospitals of Marseille, as well as other researchers and doctors from the FondaMental Foundation, are behind the discovery. “Bipolarity is a limiting disease that affects daily life. It can be about different areas such as cognitive abilities – by disrupting the memory, attention or executive functions of patients –, sleep or even manifesting itself through excessive fatigue”, explains the foundation.

This delay in diagnosis penalizes patients who cannot benefit from the right treatment or follow-up. “This discrepancy is explained by a lack of knowledge about the disease on the part of doctors, who often associate the symptoms of bipolarity with the symptoms of depression”, states the foundation. So currently, 40% of depressives may actually suffer from bipolarity without being diagnosed, according to estimates. But “taking antidepressants can even worsen the disorders of a bipolar patient”, say the researchers.

Clinical trials have not yet validated the test

Through a study published in 2021, experts have found that bipolarity leaves traces in the blood. They identified blood biomarkers to refine the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. More precisely, the detection and measurement of cytokines in the blood, an inflammatory biomarker, makes it possible to distinguish patients suffering from bipolar disorders from those suffering from a depressive disorder. The test is therefore only applicable after a diagnosis of depression made by a doctor: it then only allows “to distinguish depression from bipolar disorder”.

For this discovery, Professor Raoul Belzeaux received the Marcel Dassault prize for innovation in 2022. psychiatry at the service of patients. “This award will facilitate the financing of the clinical trial necessary to validate the rapid screening test and develop its industrial exploitation”, the CHU of Montpellier also announced on its website.

The effectiveness of this test has not yet been confirmed by a clinical trial. It is intended to be included in the list of products approved and reimbursed by the Health Insurance, for the benefit of the patient and our health system.

Another similar test is in the spotlight: that of start-up Alcediag, a biopharmaceutical company based in Hérault. “When the brain fails, it sends signals to the body like a diseased kidney or liver would,” explains Dinah Weissmann, co-founder of the company, to Ouest-France. The test called Edit-B was developed after ten years of work and will be marketed in early 2023 in Italy and Switzerland. This will then be the case in France, at an undisclosed rate. Discussions with the health authorities with a view to possible reimbursement from Social Security are underway.

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